ECCLESIASTES 4-6, REVELATION 11
When thinking of the book of Revelation, most of us immediately begin to feel fear. We've read enough to know that the events that transpire throughout the book are not natural occuences that we're accustomed to. But something that's important to remember is the way the book begins. "The revelation of Jesus Christ..." We must remember that the main point of the entire book is to showcase Jesus Christ Himself, His power, His glory, His love for His own people, and His ultimate defeat of sin and death for all eternity. Throughout the book, the wrath of God that's poured out on mankind is only reserved for those that have not placed their faith in Him. Sin will be punished, and what we see in chapter 11 is that even in the midst of that judgement, "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentence." He sends witnesses to prophesy to the power and majesty of Christ to give them yet another chance to respond to His grace. But as usual, the response is not one of acceptance, but of rejection, and judgement ultimately follows.
1 Again, I observed all the acts of oppression being done under the sun. Look at the tears of those who are oppressed; they have no one to comfort them. Power is with those who oppress them; they have no one to comfort them. 2 So I commended the dead, who have already died, more than the living, who are still alive. 3 But better than either of them is the one who has not yet existed, who has not seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.
THE LONELINESS OF WEALTH
4 I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to one person’s jealousy of another. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.,q
5 The fool folds his arms
and consumes his own flesh.
6 Better one handful with rest
than two handfuls with effort and a pursuit of the wind.
7 Again, I saw futility under the sun: 8 There is a person without a companion, without even a son or brother, and though there is no end to all his struggles, his eyes are still not content with riches. “Who am I struggling for,” he asks, “and depriving myself of good things?” This too is futile and a miserable task.
9 Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. 10 For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? 12 And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
13 Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer pays attention to warnings. 14 For he came from prison to be king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I saw all the living, who move about under the sun, follow a second youth who succeeds him. 16 There is no limit to all the people who were before them, yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.
CAUTION IN GOD’S PRESENCE
1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Better to approach in obedience than to offer the sacrifice as fools do, for they ignorantly do wrong. 2 Do not be hasty to speak, and do not be impulsive to make a speech before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. 3 Just as dreams accompany much labor, so also a fool’s voice comes with many words. 4 When you make a vow to God, don’t delay fulfilling it, because he does not delight in fools. Fulfill what you vow. 5 Better that you do not vow than that you vow and not fulfill it. 6 Do not let your mouth bring guilt on you, and do not say in the presence of the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry with your words and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For many dreams bring futility, so do many words. Therefore, fear God.
THE REALITIES OF WEALTH
8 If you see oppression of the poor and perversion of justice and righteousness in the province, don’t be astonished at the situation, because one official protects another official, and higher officials protect them. 9 The profit from the land is taken by all; the king is served by the field.,c
10 The one who loves silver is never satisfied with silver, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income. This too is futile. 11 When good things increase, the ones who consume them multiply; what, then, is the profit to the owner, except to gaze at them with his eyes? 12 The sleep of the worker is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich permits him no sleep.
13 There is a sickening tragedy I have seen under the sun: wealth kept by its owner to his harm. 14 That wealth was lost in a bad venture, so when he fathered a son, he was empty-handed. 15 As he came from his mother’s womb, so he will go again, naked as he came; he will take nothing for his efforts that he can carry in his hands. 16 This too is a sickening tragedy: exactly as he comes, so he will go. What does the one gain who struggles for the wind? 17 What is more, he eats in darkness all his days, with much frustration, sickness, and anger.
18 Here is what I have seen to be good: It is appropriate to eat, drink, and experience good in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him, because that is his reward. 19 Furthermore, everyone to whom God has given riches and wealth, he has also allowed him to enjoy them, take his reward, and rejoice in his labor. This is a gift of God, 20 for he does not often consider the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.
1 Here is a tragedy I have observed under the sun, and it weighs heavily on humanity: 2 God gives a person riches, wealth, and honor so that he lacks nothing of all he desires for himself, but God does not allow him to enjoy them. Instead, a stranger will enjoy them. This is futile and a sickening tragedy. 3 A man may father a hundred children and live many years. No matter how long he lives, if he is not satisfied by good things and does not even have a proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. 4 For he comes in futility and he goes in darkness, and his name is shrouded in darkness. 5 Though a stillborn child does not see the sun and is not conscious, it has more rest than he. 6 And if a person lives a thousand years twice, but does not experience happiness, do not both go to the same place?
7 All of a person’s labor is for his stomach,,s
yet the appetite is never satisfied.
8 What advantage then does the wise person have over the fool? What advantage is there for the poor person who knows how to conduct himself before others? 9 Better what the eyes see than wandering desire. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.
10 Whatever exists was given its name long ago, and it is known what mankind is. But he is not able to contend with the one stronger than he. 11 For when there are many words, they increase futility. What is the advantage for mankind? 12 For who knows what is good for anyone in life, in the few days of his futile life that he spends like a shadow? Who can tell anyone what will happen after him under the sun?
THE TWO WITNESSES
1 Then I was given a measuring reed like a rod, with these words: “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count those who worship there. 2 But exclude the courtyard outside the temple. Don’t measure it, because it is given to the nations,,ab and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 3 I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies; if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 6 They have authority to close up the sky so that it does not rain during the days of their prophecy. They also have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every plague whenever they want.
THE WITNESSES MARTYRED
7 When they finish their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war on them, conquer them, and kill them. 8 Their dead bodies will lie in the main street of the great city, which figuratively is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9 And some of the peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will view their bodies for three and a half days and not permit their bodies to be put into a tomb. 10 Those who live on the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and send gifts to one another because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.
THE WITNESSES RESURRECTED
11 But after three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet. Great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” They went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched them. 13 At that moment a violent earthquake took place, a tenth of the city fell, and seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake. The survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe has passed. Take note: The third woe is coming soon!
THE SEVENTH TRUMPET
15 The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying,
The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom
of our Lord and of his Christ,
and he will reign forever and ever.
16 The twenty-four elders, who were seated before God on their thrones, fell facedown and worshiped God, 17 saying,
We give you thanks, Lord God, the Almighty,
who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry,
but your wrath has come.
The time has come
for the dead to be judged
and to give the reward
to your servants the prophets,
to the saints, and to those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and the time has come to destroy
those who destroy the earth.
19 Then the temple of God in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant appeared in his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and severe hail.
Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017).